Why is Kashmir called the Paradise on Earth?
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.
These were the words that Amir Khusro used to describe Kashmir. He was a poet during the Maluk Dynasty when they entered through the Karakoram into Kashmir. This is the earliest reference of Kashmir as Paradise. Kashmir continued to be the favourite destination for rulers to come. The most famous of them were Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb who used Srinagar as their summer capital. A plethora of gardens was built by the Mughals that added an organised layer to the free-flowing beauty of Kashmir.
Kashmir found itself to be named differently in different places, all highlighting it’s unusual natural beauty and uniqueness. The name Kashmir means the desiccated land (Ka= water, shimeera= desiccated) from its formation. The Greek attempt to write the same word gave it the name Kaspeiria. Chinese monks who visited Kashmir in 631 AD called it Kia-shi-mi-lo. In Tibet, the valley is known by the name Khachal.
Kashmir’s Crown: It’s natural beautyKashmir’s beauty lies essentially in its picturesque views and the simplicity in its natural landscape. Rows of cypress trees along the banks of Jhelum nestled between the foothills are fresh breath against wherever else you come from. The meadows jutting out of supple hills throw a range of shades at you, leaving a sense of contentment behind. Kashmir has a unique way of seeping into your being with its surrealism.
Most of its beauty lies in the perfect blend of colours that visually offer pleasure. The sound of the birds and wildlife is much more harmonic than elsewhere. Kashmir, in its essence, induces synesthesia.
Here’s why Kashmir is particularly the Paradise on Earth.
1. The AutumnsThe burnt orange of the autumns and the roads lined with the annual sheddings of nature, actualize what most of us have only seen in the Windows screen savers. There is gold in the sun and scarlet and amber in the hues of the trees, that set off the mellow cold with their warm palette.
2. Tranquil LakesThe remnants of the Karewa lake, bring you its richness in the form of the Dal Lake and Nageen Lakes. The tranquillity is uncomparable as you wade through the waters in a houseboat. The warmth of the hosts and the hospitality offered makes it luxurious indulgence without which Kashmir is incomplete.
3. The Snow!While the summers release the full might of the green meadows, the winters bring the pure, untouched beauty in its snow covered caps. The hills sport white tops with darker blues along the bottoms lined with deep greens of the treetops. This is where winter blooms to its fullest.
4. The Tulip GardensThe gardens which go back to centuries have still been maintained. Come Spring, the tulips release their colours in their purest forms. If you happen to be in Kashmir in spring, this is something you mustn’t miss for the world.
5. The MeadowsThe subtle slopes are covered in green for kilometres at a stretch that seems to overlap in the horizons. The middling green shade of the grass is satisfyingly cornered with deeper greens of the hill. Summers are the best time to enjoy a laid back twilight complete with picturesque sunsets. A little before spring sets in, the hills in the backdrop are snow-covered.
6. The FoodKashmiri cuisine is replete with rich flavours and intense colours. Some of them take hours to prepare for that emulsify the flavours to incite taste buds never activated before. Kashmir is home to a range of dishes that are only found in the valley. The patent experience is lunch on a houseboat on the Dal Lake The tranquillity and the raging flavours create a pleasurable conflict between the senses. The most popular include Rogan Josh, Yakhni or Dum Aloo and Kahwa for a beverage.
The paradise on earth is not just about its colours and tastes coming together to form the perfect palette. It is also in its people, its music and in its spirit. While Kashmir has a checkered past in terms of politics, it still holds its head up high in terms of culture and lifestyle. The saffron and the spices it grows on its lands is not found anywhere else. In fact, nothing in Kashmir can be found anywhere else. This is why centuries of rulers, travellers and common people have stood in awe of paradise. So much so, that they were forced to return as many times as possible.